Recordkeeper in chief staying put
- By William Matthews
- Aug 10, 2000
U.S. Archivist John Carlin said he intends to stay in office to complete
the creation of an electronic archive that would make government records
available online "anytime, any place." That means he plans to be the nation's
chief recordkeeper for at least another five years.
Carlin, a former governor of Kansas, was nominated for archivist of the
United States in 1995 by President Clinton but said he does not plan to
depart when the president does in January. The National Archives and Records
Administration is about two years into the enormously complex electronic
archive project, which should be ready in 2004 or 2005, Carlin said Wednesday
during an interview with Federal Computer Week.
The project is intended to solve the problem of how the federal government
can handle its fast-multiplying inventory of electronic records. When the
Clinton administration leaves office, for example, it is expected to turn
over to the Archives up to 40 million electronic records created by e-mail
messages alone. There will be millions of other electronic records as well.
That compares to about 100,000 electronic records created between 1971 and
When the Electronic Records Archive is ready for use in about five years,
it is intended to store electronic documents in Extensible Markup Language
in such a way that data can be retrieved and read by the computers and software
that will be used in the future.
The electronic archive is expected to be updated as technology changes to
take advantage of improved methods of storage, retrieval and transmission,
said Carlin and Reynolds Cahoon, the assistant archivist.
Carlin, who was governor of Kansas from 1979 to 1987, was president of Midwest
Superconductivity Inc., a Kansas high-technology research and development
company when he was picked by Clinton to head NARA.
Considered a nonpolitical appointee, the archivist of the United States
serves for an indefinite period. However, Carlin's predecessor, Donald Wilson,
who was appointed by President Bush, resigned after Bush left office to
follow the former president to Texas to head the Bush library there.